Press release

Less than 5 % of the migrant workers are systematically trained and carry certificates that show their qualifications

Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission and the International Labour Organization co-hosted a national consultation and process validation workshop to generate ideas on how relevant stakehol.ders can further cooperate and improve the current Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) system

Press release | 21 April 2017
Ms Simrin Singh, ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Prof Rajeewa Wijesinghe, Chairman of TVEC, Mrs. Amaratunga, Secretary, State Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training
ILO News (Colombo): Certificates of one’s knowledge and skills can mean different things for individuals. Emotionally, certificates may enhance one’s sense of self-efficacy, while practically, they serve as a tool to gain employment and negotiate for better pay and promotion. At a more macro-level, certificates are vital for the labour market to classify and absorb the right people with right skills and in return provide them with decent work. However, the majority of the migrant workers from Sri Lanka have neither undergone systematic training nor possess any kind of certifications that validate their skills and competencies. This is unfortunate, since many of the migrant workers, especially those in the construction sector, are often exposed to modern technology overseas and equipped with concrete, transferable skills and competencies.

Given this background, the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) and the ILO co-hosted a national consultation workshop on skills assessment and certification among migrant workers in the construction sector on the 21st of April, 2017. The main objective of the workshop was to identify issues concerning the existing skills assessment and certification system, the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), and generate ideas on how it can be further improved. In his opening remarks, Professor Rajiva Wijesinha, Chairman of TVEC, mentioned that, “we need a system that fosters horizontal and vertical collaboration among all stakeholders involved on the same agenda and cover the needs nationwide.” Furthermore, Ms. Simrin Singh, Country Director of ILO Sri Lanka and the Maldives, mentioned “migrant workers and their skills recognition is a priority of the decent work agenda. Given the high labour demands in the construction sector, this topic has never been so timely".

Among the number of issues that were identified and addressed, Professor Wijesinha has especially pointed out that the existing RPL needs further revisions in the areas of coordination among relevant stakeholders, especially at the divisional secretariat level. Furthermore, the system needs to be revised in a way that makes the assessment and certification services accessible, objective and transparent for migrant workers. Lastly, once the revised system is in place, migrant workers and employers of both public and private sectors need to be aware of such system and its benefits.

Participants for the workshop
A wide range of recommendations were forwarded by the tripartite constituents and other relevant stakeholders who were present at the workshop, including the Secretary of State Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training, Director General of Employer’s Federation of Ceylon and representatives of trade unions. Some of the recommendations included establishment of a steering committee at district, divisional, and Grama Niladhari (GN; village) levels and delegation of tasks and responsibilities; expansion of assessment centers and increase in number of qualified trainers and assessors; implementation of social marketing campaigns and advocacy activities at schools and training institutions; mitigation of costs by implementation of a common database on migrant workers; and increase in efficiency through introduction of e-certificates. These recommendations will be further processed and validated in an upcoming key stakeholder meeting to determine the concrete steps for the revision of the RPL system.